How to Plan for Your Annual Men’s Health Physical Exam
Most men are aware of the importance of scheduling and attending a physical exam with their doctors each year, but many men don’t actually follow through with their physicals for one reason or another. The truth is that a men’s health screening is nothing to be worried about; it’s a quick appointment aimed at addressing any questions or concerns you may have and checking to make sure you are in optimal health.
In this brief article, we will look at some of the top reasons why men should attend a physical exam each year, what to expect during the appointment, some of the unique health needs of men, and finally, the importance of having a good ongoing relationship with your doctor.
Top 3 reasons why an annual physical with your doctor is important for men
There are many reasons why it’s important to attend your annual physical, and this list is by no means exhaustive, but here are three of the main reasons to plan a physical exam each year.
1. Screening for health problems
The primary reason for attending your physical exam is to screen for serious health problems, such as cancer, heart disease, or other life-threatening diseases. Oftentimes detecting such conditions early means that an effective treatment regimen can be put in place to combat the issue, but if left unchecked, then by the time the problem is detected, it may be too late to treat, or the treatment may be much less effective than it otherwise could have been.
2. Addressing your concerns
Another reason to attend a clinic for men’s health to get a physical exam is because it’s a great opportunity to speak with your doctor and let them know about any health issues that have been bothering you or that you’re concerned about.
By letting your doctor know what’s been going on with you and asking plenty of questions, you’ll be able to determine which issues are minor, which are serious, and which are an emergency. Remember, it’s always better to know than to not know.
3. Maintaining medical records
Throughout the year, it’s likely that you will have had some sort of medical situation arise. Maybe it was just a common cold, or maybe you had an injury; whatever the case is, it’s important to let your doctor know what happened this year so that they can update your medical records accordingly.
Having up-to-date records allows medical professionals to assess and treat you correctly in the future, and keeping your file current helps doctors understand your medical history and prescribe medications accordingly.
What to expect during the appointment
During your physical, the doctor will typically perform each of the following tests to check your overall health and well-being.
Vital Sign Check
Generally, your physical exam will start with the doctor checking your vital signs. This means checking your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Assuming that your vital signs are normal, the doctor will then move on to the next step of the physical.
The visual exam portion of the annual physical includes checking your chest, eyes, nose, head, and nervous system for any obvious issues that may be prevalent among men your age. In most cases, this part of the exam is brief, but it’s necessary to make sure that your health isn’t showing any obvious signs of distress or disorder.
The actual physical portion of the exam is the part of the physical that some men feel uncomfortable with, but there is absolutely no reason to feel this way. The physical exam includes:
Checking your hair and nails.
Touching your abdomen to check for any abnormalities.
Checking your genitals for signs of cancer.
Some men don’t attend their physicals because they are uncomfortable with having their penis or rectum touched, but this is nothing to be embarrassed about and perfectly normal; it’s also the best way to screen for prostate cancer and colon cancer, and a number of other life-threatening ailments. So a brief moment of awkwardness is the worst-case scenario, but the best-case scenario is that the exam detects something serious on time to save your life.
Last but not least, the doctor may ask you to submit some fluid samples, such as saliva, or urine, to send off for laboratory analysis; this will offer insight into what’s going on behind the scenes with your inner biology and can detect issues that may not be readily apparent to your doctor from the visual or physical exams.
Unique men's health issues
Some issues are exclusive to or more prevalent in men, so planning your yearly physical is a great way to screen for and address those men’s health issues. Such issues include:
Screening for prostate, testicular, and colorectal cancers
Dealing with erectile issues and other sex-drive related problems
Checking for rectal disorders or other problems with the rectum
Having a good relationship with your doctor is important
Your relationship with your doctor is one of the most intimate but important relationships you should have. Their job is to make sure that you stay as healthy as you can be, and there’s absolutely nothing to be worried or embarrassed about.